The most accessible of our North Island west coast beaches is one called Palmerston. I have heard it variously called Ten Minute, Five Minute or Two Minute Beach, all indicating estimated times it takes to get from your parked car to the beach, depending upon age, flexibility, inclination and enthusiasm.
The beach can be reached by driving past Holberg on the Cape Scott road, then turning off to your left toward Raft Cove. If you stay on this road past the Raft Cove trail, it continues on as Coast Main. When you reach a concrete bridge, dont despair, youre nearly there. The Palmerston parking lot is just up ahead with toilets and a good trail down to an ocean which by now you have spotted from the road!
I love this beach. It doesnt have the expanses of San Josef, Raft Cove or the ones of Cape Scott, but this is the charm of it. If your time is limited, you can be settling down to a picnic on its shores within minutes, A lovely little creek runs into it, forming sand bars and pools that are great in which to play around. During spring and fall, watch for bears. They love creeks too!
The headlands on each side of the bay, where the surf is always in action, are what I particularly love. The one on the right is the most daunting and will eventually stop you from traveling further west unless you want to take to the woods. The left one, however, can be easily traversed at low tide and has a trail through the bush that can be followed at high tide. Once you cross over it you are on to beaches that stretch for miles to Raft Cove; an ambitious route for many backpackers.
The last time I was there I ran across a little cabin almost hidden high up in the woods. Built entirely from driftwood, I almost passed it by. Giving in to my curiosity, I approached it with some trepidation, only to find it was inhabited. A blonde, young man appeared at the open door and greeted me with, Gday Mate! Can you believe here was an Aussie biking across Canada? He laughed when I commented that he was a long way off course. We had a great exchange, since I had just returned from Western Australia. What a small world indeed. The fact is, this is a very frequent route for backpackers and this was simply a tempting diversion for this extremely fit young fellow.
I did many sketches that day, one of which I worked up into this painting, deciding to include my young Aussie friend to illustrate.another great use of our awesome beaches.